Lines and Curves - Florida Polytechnic University - Photo Set

This building is truly stunning and Florida is really lucky to have it. It's located in Lakeland, FL. If you ever taken a trip to Tampa, you've probably seen it from I-4 heading west. I don't know a whole lot about architecture, but I'm truly fascinated by beautiful buildings and structures. I Googled the University and found out that it was designed by architect Dr Santiago Calatrava. His buildings are simply jaw dropping and I want to visit all of them. If you're an architecture nerd, I suggest you Google Image him up.

Looks Like Someone Has a Case of The Selfishies

No one is fully selfish, but no one is fully self-less either. This is the dichotomy of being a human being. Even Mother Teresa must have had selfish thoughts all the time, thinking on what kind of humanitarian legacy she will leave behind. And even the most narcissistic person you can think of probably has at least one person that they truly care about other than themselves. 

I believe that in order to truly be a good person, you must understand and accept this dichotomy. From the cradle to the grave, or default state is selfishness. Usually the older you get, the more selfless you become. Though not necessarily. There’s a big myth that recent parents like to say that having children makes you less selfish. While there is some truth to this, they are only being selfless to the one, two, or to how many children they might have. They are still being selfish to the rest of the world, in some instances even more selfish.

Selfishness is the reason why when we see a peer, an acquaintance, a friend, or even a family member doing something good for themselves, we have a hard time being genuinely happy for them, even though we might literally tell them that we’re happy for them. What we do however is find something that’s wrong or what they’re doing wrong. We sort of give backhanded compliments that are not even related to the issue at hand. This is because we have a really hard time relating to others if we don’t see ourselves reflected.

I certainly am as selfish as anybody, and I struggle to be more selfless with the people I interact with on a daily basis, but I try to focus my selfishness inward instead of outward and I do this by following the old principle that says that if you have nothing good to say, then don’t say anything. 

The Universe is Completely Indifferent to Your Existence

"The universe is completely indifferent to your existence." I forget where it was that I heard or read this originally, but I remember that it was in the context of finding meaning and purpose in life. Nihilism is kind of a bummer philosophy, but I think the opposite, which is blind optimism and having a belief that there is a purpose, is probably more of a bummer. It's a bummer because sooner or later you'll realize how little control you truly have, if you even have any control at all. It's easier to believe in having a destiny, in making your own luck, and even believing that there's no such thing as luck, but throughout your life, shit that you didn't predict is going to happen that's going to disrupt your beliefs and all your life plans. There's a reason why the saying "hope for the best, plan for worst" is such a popular saying. Another way of saying it is “good stuff might happen, but bad shit has an equal chance of happening.” 

I've read Nietzsche a couple of times when I was in high school, maybe half understanding his writings. I probably understood a third of what Thus Spoke Zarathustra was about. But I've seen Fight Club about 25 times and that movie has many memorable nihilistic aphorism that are easier to understand than the high concept novel Thus Spoke Zarathustra. On of my favorites lines in the movie is when Tyler Durden, after burning the back of “Jack’s” hand with lye, he says, “It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.”

A way to distill that and to present nihilism as a more positive outlook of life is that sure, you can't control the exterior forces of life, after all we’re all just walking bags of meat that are slowly rotting away and we’re all eventually going to die. But there is only one thing you can control, and that is  how your going to react to all these unpredictable forces. We still have a conscious mind, and once we truly understand that the worst is likely to happen as much as the best, our mind’s will be better prepared to deal with them. 

“First you’ve gotta know - not fear, know - that someday you’re gonna die.” - Tyler Durden

Exploring Universal City Walk at Night - Photo Set

Living in Orlando and having an interest in urban and street photography is a bit hard. It's hard because part of what I find great about these styles of photography is sort of discovering interesting structures and buildings. Part of the thrill for me is the scouting and the hunt for spots. But I think it's safe to say that the city is pretty sparse in terms of how many buildings are in close proximity to each other. This means that your gonna have a hard time shooting an epic cityscape of Orlando at night for example. And forget about candid street portraits. With the exception of homeless people, which keep to themselves, there isn't a whole lot of people activity in Downtown. Unless you want to shoot barfly yuppies and hipsters at night. 

I don't mean to disparage Orlando, I'm just saying that there are limits here in terms of urban photography. But I think these limits, these constraints, are actually a good thing. Having constraints makes you do your best work and it makes you stand apart from the pack. But I don't want to digress into how-to-be-creative theories.

What Orlando and central Florida has plenty of though is places for tourists. I don't necessarily shy away from shooting at these places, but I understand that most of the pictures of these places feel inauthentic and honestly boring. Most of the structures there are made and are meant to be photographed. But my approach is to find the other stuff that people don't notice and that ins't meant to be photographed. The set below is my attempt at shooting Universal City Walk with the approach of a guerrilla urban photographer. And I mean guerrilla half jokingly because my approach and the things I was shooting startled the security personnel there. When I was shooting the stairs, two security guards were observing me very suspiciously. 

So enough said, here's the set. 

Put This On Your Media Queue #3

To Watch

Gone Girl - David Fincher can make a traditional Thriller into some dark and interesting shit. The best way I can describe it is if Fincher directed Basic Instinct. My only gripe is that Ben Affleck didn't work for me as that character. Besides that, this film is pretty good. 

To Read

What Screens Want - Didn't have a chance to sit down and read some good long-form this week, so I went and dug up an essay by Frank Chimero from my Instapaper archives. Chimero tackles the dichotomy of designing for physical things vs designing for screens. 

To Listen

The Blacker the Berry by Kendrick Lamar - Has been on instant replay this whole week. 

Gone Girl Soundtrack - Part of the reason the film Gone Girl works so well is the soundtrack. Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor collaborate once again with David Fincher and the moods and sounds are simply amazing. I heard that this Director and Musician collaboration compared to the Sergio Leone and Ennio Morricone collaboration with the whole Spaguetti Westerns stuff.  So I guess you could call David Fincher movies since The Social Network "Darkwave Thrillers"?


Put This On Your Media Queue #2

To Watch

Chef - Really enjoyed Jonh Favreu's ode to the foodies. He directs and stars in this one and you can tell that a lot of love went into making it. It's an independent comedy with a lot of heart and a lot of delicious looking Cuban sandwiches. 

Florida Man: The Documentary - This isn't related to the famous @_FloridaMan Twitter account, though I found the link throughout that account, but it features the same sort of characters that the account tweets about. It's a candid portrait of mostly retired middle aged alcoholics, pill poppers, and hedonistic middle-brow southerners. It's great. 

To Read

The Great Discontent Magazine Issue #2 - For those who don't know, The Great Discontent is a magazine that interviews designers, illustrators, musicians, photographers, artists, and all other sorts of people in the creative community. They are mainly an online zine, but they just released their second issue of their print magazine.

AMA: Khoi Vinh - Designer Khoi Vinh did an Ask Me Anything post over at Designer News. Lots of wisdom was dropped in that thread so I suggest checking it out. 

To Listen

This American Life Ep #546: Burroughs 101 - An entire episode dedicated to the mythic, the decadent, and the romanticized writer William S Burroughs. The episode is a complete re-airing of a BBC Documentary. It's narrated, or as the British call it, presented, by Iggy Pop. Really freaking great stuff.  

Jeff Bridges Sleeping Tapes - In a collaboration with Squarespace, Jeff Bridges made this weird but surprisingly relaxing album. You can buy it and pay what you want, get a signed copy, and even get a limited edition on a 180-gram vinyl plate (golden wax) for $200. Jeff Bridges is sort of like a Florida man by the way. 

Pedestrian At Best by Courtney Barnett - This is a sort of riot grrrl, post-grunge song but in all the good ways. The dream of the 90's is alive in Courtney Barnett.

Put This On Your Media Queue #1

To Watch 

Field Niggas - Khalik Allah is a street Photographer from NYC. He takes stunning portraits of people from the side of street life that's usually ignored. The real, raw, and un-glamorized street life. It's ugly, gritty, but beautiful in its on way. 

Frank - This movie is a smart satire of all the indie rock mythologies you hear about. 

To Read

The Cobweb - Jill Lepore writes for The New Yorker about what actually stays stored on the internet and what organizations like the Internet Archive are doing to preserve data on the web.

City: A Guidebook for the Urban Age - I'm still going through this book, but so far I'm intrigued. I've been city obsessed lately, and this book gives an in depth view on what makes cities tick.

To Listen

Radiolab - American Football - I don't follow sports and I won't be watching the Superbowl tonight, well maybe the halftime commercials, but this was a really interesting episode of Radiolab on the origins of the game. 

Ghostface Killah 36 Seasons - By way of listening to an episode on Song Exploder, I've been rocking out to this for the past couple of weeks. Great stuff.

Twitter Douchepreneurs and Power Networkers

I've been using Twitter since 2007, back when people mostly tweeted about their sandwiches. Like most people, I didn't "get it" at first and I've gone through all the phases from becoming inactive, to kind of getting it, to finally sticking with it. I like it because it connects me to what's going on, but I mostly like it because I like people. I like real people, with all their imperfections and even their sandwiches. But Twitter got really popular and this attracted all sorts of people. Like fake and inauthentic people. Literally. Corporations and companies have Twitter accounts now, which isn't really the problem. The problem is people douchepreneuring themselves as brands and mass following people based on hashtags and keywords. I'm no expert, but I don't think this is how networking works, at least networking with real authentic people. What do you prefer? To have 1000+ followers with maybe like 3% of those paying attention? Or to have 100 people that really like you? This is probably one of the reasons why kids find Twitter so uncool and why Snapchat has become their go to medium. Twitter and other social platforms like Facebook pressure people into putting up a sort of a performance, while a service like Snapchat takes that pressure off, by literally making your stuff disposable, thus weirdly making people behave more authentic. I'm not saying that you shouldn't look for people based on the topics you're interested in. That's what makes the internet so awesome, that we can connect based on shared interests. But don't act like some sort of Twitter bot following everyone that mentions the word business for example, and then unfollow and discard them like a worthless baseball card. You should at least look at the last 10 tweets before deciding to follow someone on Twitter. Just common sense you know. Just, be real. Be human. 

The Advice Podcast Racket

Be wary about career advice podcasts. The people in these podcasts are mostly generalists and their success is based on telling people how to be successful. Seek advice from the people that are doing the thing that you actually want to do. If you want to be a web designer or a tattoo artist then seek out those people. I’m not saying that you won’t gain any value from these podcasts, but they really don’t have the specific knowledge and insight that you need in order for you to move on from that giddy optimism we all get from the self-help racket, to the true exhilaration of getting out there and doing your thing. So take your headphones off every know and then, and start doing some CSS sprites, or putting ink in people’s skin.

Molly Crabapple Interview on The Great Discontent

Didn't know much about her other than her Vice piece on Guantanamo Bay she did a while back. She's a super talented artist and writer.  Love the advice she gives to young artist starting out. This is her on motivation:

If you need to talk about how to get motivated, then go get a normal job in the normal scheme of the world and just do art as a hobby so you still love it. Stop clogging up the field for the people who need this like a drug.